Crowd surge outside UCLA game prompts safety concerns, promise ‘to get better’

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UCLA administrators are promising improvements after a line outside Pauley Pavilion Friday night turned into a mob, prompting a potentially dangerous situation that reminded some of a deadly crowd surge at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival earlier this month.

The second-ranked Bruins men’s basketball team was preparing to take on the fourth-ranked Villanova Wildcats, and that had fans gathering in Westwood as early as 4 a.m.

Things got out of control several hours later when officials started handing out wrist bands, UCLA student Hannah Masresha told the Daily Bruin. “Everyone just started running,” Masresha said.

Some compared the pushing and shoving to what took place at the Astroworld Festival, where 10 people died as the result of a crowd surge.

“People are just pushing and pushing and kept pushing. It was like the incident at Travis Scott,” UCLA student Sambi Yamashita told the Daily Bruin. “I was in between two guys that kept pushing me, and I couldn’t even breathe. And since they were tall, there was no air. … It was horrible.”

Although it appears no one was seriously hurt Friday night, the incident proved concerning to school officials.

UCLA Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond tweeted that changes would be made for upcoming events, including more staffing, additional barriers, and a “deep dive” into the school’s ticket distribution process.

“We have high expectations for our student and fan experience, and while the game was great, we didn’t meet those expectations for everyone. We will learn from this and get better,” Jarmond’s post read.

The game was great for Bruin fans as the team won 86-77 in overtime.

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